Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

One thing you can say about Marvel Studios … they looooooves their artifacts, especially if they come in a set, and if they can destroy the entire universe then so much the better.

In this surprising outing for one their lesser know players, the world’s greatest KungFu master is pitted against his own father who intends to use the ten rings he acquired hundreds of years before to bring back his dead wife (so at least his heart was in the right place).

There’s no point changing a winning formula, so the film is high-octane, pretty violent, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. I wasn’t convinced by the plot, but with great performances from Simu Liu (the hero) and Awkwfina (the non-romantic sidekick), Michelle Yeoh (who, let’s face it, is brilliant in everything) and Tony Leung, the plot didn’t actually matter so much.

No expense was spared on the special effects, the set design was brilliant, and the fight sequences? … Wow! I mean, yes, it’s a fight film, but some of the sequences were visual poetry; some bits were very much Crouching Tiger – which happens to be one of my favourite flicks.

If I had one complaint, I’d say that maybe the film was a little bit too long; a bit of editing could have shaved off a good twenty minutes in my non-professional-and-so-should-probably-be-ignored opinion. I dunno, is it possible for a finale to overdo it? If it can, then this might be the case study.

Still, a dream of a movie all the same. As I said, a strange choice for the opening of a new phase, but it worked. Oh, yes; it worked.

The Black Widow

It took it’s own sweet time getting here, but as it turns out, it was well worth the wait. Scarlett Johansson takes Marvel’s eponymous near-superhuman spy around the world for one last outing (after the whole … well, you know … Thanos business).

And it’s one hell of a swan song. The movie takes the Black Widow across the world with the help of a fella who seems to be able to conjure experimental fighter jets out of thin air, but seems to have trouble getting hold of a decent caravan, and the family of Russian agents who’re her family … after a fashion.

The plot is … unsurprisingly unlikely, the characters have just the right amount of depth: enough to keep you rooting for them, but not enough to get in the way slow down the on-screen carnage. The stunts are fantastic, and like all Marvel movies, it doesn’t take itself too seriously (DC, take note). The only cringeworthy bit about it was Ray Winston’s accent, which meandered between Russian Bond villain and Phil Mitchell from Eastenders.

The Black Widow didn’t have that Marvel blockbuster feel to it; felt more like something that could’ve played out on the Disney+ channel over a six-part series. Still, well worth seeing IMO.

Book review: The Bionic Man

Ah, the seventies: flared trousers, flammable nylon, in-your-face racism and school custard with the consistency of skimmed milk. But you know what; it wasn’t all bad, because on Saturday nights (having spend the day bouncing off the walls after Tiswas) we had the Six Million Dollar Man: the story of Steve Austin, astronaut and test pilot, horrifically injured in a plane crash and rebuilt as a cyborg to be better than he was before; better, faster, stron—anyway, even if you don’t remember it I’m sure you get the idea. As entertaining as it was ridiculous, the Six Million Dollar Man ran for five seasons and spawned a reasonably successful spinoff (The Bionic Woman) that ran for another three. It was also the forerunner for just about every cyborg-related super-hero/villain you’ll see today; some we love (Inspector Gadget), and some we hate (The Terminator). Over the years, there’s been talk of a movie revival (I think Will Smith was mooted to play Austin one point), but nothing every came of it.

Well, actually it did: not a movie, but a comic series – and I had no idea. It’s been out for a couple of years, and I only found out when I stumbled across a picture from one of the comics on the interweb:

And on the strength of that, I bought the first omnibus, and I can tell you, it’s been an absolute treat. Kevin Smith (is that the same guy with the baseball cap?) deserves a comic oscar or something for this.

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